When a brand is really strong and established, it can endure even during difficult times.
Sometimes it’s argued that brand building is not so important. It’s more about promoting service lines, driving business, and proving ROI for marketing expenditures. Some say brand building cannot be justified; only those activities that create specific direct response and a measurable return on investment have merit.
However, brands that are strong, have a very positive position in the consumer’s mind, and have grown over time, show great resiliency and staying power. Without a strong brand reputation, you’re only as good as your most recent promotion or offer. With significant brand equity however, a brand can stand strong – even in the midst of controversy and bad PR.
Al Ries in an article in Ad Age cited six examples of strong brands that have endured missteps and even bad PR.
1. Tylenol – When seven people died from cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules in 1982, the brand’s obituary was pronounced by practically everyone. Yet today, Tylenol is the No. 1 over the counter brand.
2. Tiger Woods – Before the Masters, Woods’ online reputation was 51% positive and 49% negative. After the first day of competition Woods’ positive rating went to 69% and the negative rating fell to 31%.
3. Toyota – Despite all the bad publicity Toyota has received, in March when Toyota was pronounced as being in deep trouble, they sold more vehicles than any other brand in America.
4. Mercedes-Benz – In 2007, Consumer Reports rated Mercedes last in predicted reliability among 36 automobile brands. That year Mercedes’ sales went up.
5. Bill Clinton – Despite being impeached in 1998, Bill Clinton survived and still has a strong brand.
6. Martha Stewart – In 2004 Martha Stewart was convicted of lying to investigators about a stock sale and spent 5 months in prison. Today, she is in her fifth year of “The Martha Stewart Show”, her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, is doing well and she has major deals with major retailers.
What do all of these examples prove? A strong brand is hard to dethrone. Even when things go wrong, when it is ambushed with difficulty and negative PR, a strong brand can endure, survive and even thrive.
The message to healthcare marketers is there is great value in building a strong brand reputation. All the work that goes into creating brand equity is not wasted even when it’s difficult to measure it in ROI. Brand building is a long process. It’s hard, sometimes tedious work. But the enduring rewards are great indeed!